Guest Contributor: Gary House from NevertoOldtoTravel.com
Travel Media Showcase (TMS) is a travel writers/bloggers secret weapon. A prequalified only travel showcase that places you one on one to meet with representatives from the United States, Canada, and international destinations. 2018 marks TMS’s 19th consecutive conferences where travel writers/bloggers gather together for prescheduled one-on-one appointments and FAM tours
These tips, based on my previous experience at Travel Media Showcase, what worked for me and others, what didn’t work, what I wish I knew, and what I will do better at next time I am approved to attend.
Pre-approval to Travel Media Showcase
1. Two steps to approval – Pre-Qualification is the first step in the review process to apply to Travel Media Showcase. Applicants advanced to the second round will receive a member ID and Password which will allow access to TMS’s official online application.
2. Get your pre-registration in on time – The spots fill up fast, and those that are in the know about TMS await the opening of registration (February) with excitement.
3. Compile all of your social media stats – Make sure they are accurate. You will need these for registration. Keep in mind that the travel representatives will be looking at these.
4. Have proof of your content available for the application – Blog post links, YouTube links, print submissions, etc. These will help your just
5. It’s not how big your social media reach or how large your readership is, it is your unique selling position that will get you approved and scheduled – In other words, what does your writing/blogging offer that separates you from everyone else, what do you do uniquely? Write this down, you will need it on your application, during your presentation and follow-ups.
After your approval to Travel Media Showcase
6. Verify your choices for the Pre, Post and Local FAM tours – FAM or “Familiarization Tours” will need to be selected very soon after you receive your official approval email. Note: you may or may not get what you choose, and you may not get all three.
7. Know and understand your “Unique Value” as a travel writer/blogger – Probably the most important single thing you can do to have a successful TMS event is to understand and define your “Unique Value” as a travel writer/blogger.
You will be asked dozens of times “Tell me about what you do?” or “What do you write about as a travel professional?” What is your focus? What is your “unique” perspective on travel? What do you offer, that no one else provides, and why is it essential for my destination? You need to know and understand what value you offer confidently.
8. Do your pre, post and local FAM trips tours homework – (If you are new to these terms, they describe the “Familiarization” tours hosted by the local tourism board that is hosting TMS that year both before, during and after the event.) There will be several tours offered for each pre, post, and local tour, you will be asked which ones you would like to attend, make sure you choose the trips related to what you write about and can deliver content on.
9. Research, Research, Research! – I can not emphasize this enough! From the day you are approved to the day you arrive at TMS you have to research everything. If you wait till it is closer to September when the next TMS starts, you will run out of time. I began my research in May of last year for Septembers TMS, and I ran out of time! Something will always come up and take away from the most important thing you need to do to be successful.
10. Documentation system – You will need something to document your research, trip ideas, article ideas, event notes, follow-ups, emails and on and on. I used Evernote for everything last year, and it was a lifesaver for me. Whether you use paper notes or digital notes for your research, just make sure it is something that is flexible and easy to use where you can compile the vast amount of information you will be collecting.
11. Research article ideas for the pre, post and local FAM tours – You are going to be overwhelmed for the length of the TMS ( in a good way,) no sense in adding undue pressure to your trip by trying to come up with article angles as you are taking a media trip. Have a game plan based on the offering and then nail it down with the itinerary you will receive.
12. Once your FAM tours have been scheduled, book your flight – It might make you a bit nervous to hold off on booking that flight as soon as you receive your acceptance email to TMS, but wait until you receive a confirmation on your FAM trips before booking.
13. You get 30 appointment slots to schedule – A full appointment schedule includes 30 appointments in a speed-dating format over the course of 2 days.
14. Appointments are exhilarating and exhausting – Appointments are 12 minutes long with 3 minutes in between to get to your next scheduled destination. Time will go by so fast!
15. Selecting your preferred appointment destinations – Once you have been selected to attend TMS, you will be given a password to access the appointment scheduler on the TMS website. Don’t start requesting appointments immediately, do your research first, determine if it is an area that fits into your travel plans.
16. Research destination appointments opportunities – Every destination will have a profile page to help you to research and plan your sales pitch. Carefully read what they are looking for to help determine if you can deliver.
17. Do in-depth research on the Destinations – Click on the links provided to further research the destination. Check on Yelp.com or Tripadvisor.com to get ideas of what to do in the destination. Download a digital copy of their destination guide. Visit the TMS website to see what their focus is on currently. Get on their email list.
18. Create several detailed media trip ideas and article concepts – Some destinations will already have a plan or suggestions for you, but most are looking to get your ideas submitted. It never hurts to put on a great first impression when you sit down with a destination.
19. Don’t book all your appointments at once – Keep in mind that some destinations will be registering late so keep a few spots on your calendar open till the cut off nears.
20. Send out email thank you’s or even better, handwritten thank you cards for scheduling appointments – Putting your best foot forward is always good business practice.
21. Make sure you have enough business cards – Even more important, don’t forget to bring them!
22. Create a PR one sheet to hand out – Make it short and to the point. Your focus, unique value position, stats, links and contact info.
23. Get creative and make postcards to stand out from the crowd – Bigger than a business card and smaller than a one-sheet, with enough room to sell your self. Consider being a bit different than the norm to be easily remembered.
24. When packing, have a plan to bring back more than you came with – Conferences are a great place to pick up more than will fit in your suitcase. I have in the past, left behind much more than I wanted to because of all the info and goodies passed out at these events. Pack an extra travel bag or plan to ship things back home.
25. Write your elevator pitch – Write a “Unique Value” mini-speech that you can deliver in less than a minute to sell yourself to every travel destination you meet.
Travel Media Showcase Event
26. Dress for success – You would think this should go without saying but over the years I have seen so many people dress inappropriately for these events, I know that is subjective, but this is a business environment. Dress up for the social events and dinners, dress casually for the sessions and appointments and most important – dress appropriately for the FAM event! Remember that first impressions happen all day long.
27. Smile, Shake hands and Kiss babies – A political reference for sure but an important one to make. You are selling yourself at all times so have a plan to make a lasting impression! Smile, Shake hands and make friends with everyone.
28. Mingle, mingle and mingle some more – You never know who you might make a friendship with. It could be someone who can help your business, perhaps your next adventure, even point you in the right direction or become your new best friend. Get out there, say hi, introduce yourself and ask questions.
29. People love to talk about themselves – A lesson I learned a long time ago was never to say “I” when you meet someone. It is strange, but If all you do is talk about yourself, then you will never learn about who you just met. Your time to share about yourself will come soon enough. Listen and learn; you’ll be amazed at how popular you can become.
30. Ask questions – Best ideas? Best tips? How did you succeed? You will never know unless you ask.
31. Attend all functions – Opportunity missed = opportunity lost. Enough said…
32. Send an email or note to the presenters or session host – Yes, it is an extra thing to do, but the long-term results can pay off handsomely. Just a simple thank you for something that you learned or appreciated can open unforeseen doors for you.
33. Take lots of photos, video and notes during your FAM trips – By pre-focusing on your media trip article ideas, you should have a good idea of the visuals you want to record but based on conversations with others and my personal experience; it’s better to delete too many minutes of video or too many photos than not to have enough. Be thinking of your theme at all times. Take lots of notes; you never know when you need just one more fact to finish that article.
34. Don’t be late – To anything! – Yes, for all of the reasons your parents told you, they were right, you need to show professionalism and be on time. You won’t be remembered well if all you are remembered for is being late.
35. Don’t keep people waiting – Many a FAM trip has been ruined or at least dulled by the one late person who can never show up on time. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard of someone always making everyone wait, many times, during FAM trips. Any trip or meeting or social event or anything! Don’t be that person.
36. Make all of your appointments – At TMS you have 30 appointments to sell yourself and schedule trips for the next year, why would you choose to miss one? Though surprisingly some people do. Take advantage of every opportunity you have and don’t miss anything, especially with an appointment with a destination.
37. Take advantage of the breaks – There will be drinks and snacks provided throughout TMS in addition to the Breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided. Stay hydrated!
38. Didn’t get to schedule an appointment, try a walk-up appointment – There are plenty of opportunities for you to have an impromptu appointment with a destination if you were not able to schedule a specific time slot with them. Walk-up and ask if they are available during breaks, schedule a lunch meeting, spend some time with them on a local FAM trip (most destinations go on these,) perhaps they
might have time during breakfast or dinner, maybe the time after the day’s event. The opportunities are what you make of them.
39. Don’t overstay your appointment time frame – It happens, most times by accident, but you are cutting into someone else’s limited time with their next appointment if they have to wait for you to finish.
40. Speed networking = speed note taking – This is fair warning, with a 12-minute window to work with, you will have a difficult time talking, listening and taking notes. Perhaps you just write down bullet points during the meeting? Do the best you can and find the time to make additional notes during the breaks, lunches, etc
41. Meeting details to document – During your appointment take notes, so you don’t forget the travel commitments, time frames, when to follow-up, names, the best way to contact, destination ideas, further research, etc. All can be important to make notes of and to use in future correspondence.
42. What is the destination host looking for? – Knowing this could lead to future media trip opportunities. Perhaps their ideas can lead to more writing options outside of your usual writing focus. Can you offer something similar that would work for both of you?
43. Get on FAM lists – There may be nothing that you are able to schedule during your appointment, but don’t miss the opportunity to get on their FAM trip list. Perhaps they will have one coming up that is perfect for what you do.
44. Ask for a commitment – There is no reason not to close the deal during your appointment. A firm commitment on dates, length of trip and itinerary is excellent to walk away with.
45. Who pays? – That depends. Almost all destinations arrange for everything when you arrive (food, lodging, events, entertainment, transportation, etc.) in some form
or another. How you get there (plane, train, or auto) may be covered or it may not. It’s a great question to ask and one that needs to be clear in advance.
Post Travel Media Showcase
46. Immediately start sending out your thank you emails/cards – This is a quick and easy way to make an impression. Just a few lines thanking them for the appointment within the next few days can lead to a significant working relationship. It will also set you apart from all of the other attendees that don’t say thank you.
47. Re-write and/or organize your notes – Another best practice is to look at the notes you took at the TMS appointments. Do it while the information is still fresh in your mind, I promise you it won’t be in another month.
48. Follow-up with an email – Include appointment detail reminders, ideas, commitments, and plenty of appreciation.
49. Schedule your writing commitments – Once you get home, life will take over, and you will quickly lose track of time. Make a plan to get those writing commitments scheduled and completed. You don’t have to release your content immediately but at least have a game plan of when you will.
50. Tag #TMS in everything – Social media (which you should be doing from the first day of arrival at TMS), blog posts, shares, etc. Spread the love, and you will receive it back.
51. Don’t get discouraged – You may walk away from TMS with a year’s worth of travel, or you may schedule zero. Don’t worry; you can’t expect too much from just 12 minutes. Follow-up is critical to confirming media trips. Keep communication open and suggest new itineraries for them to approve, the opportunities will come.
52. You have more than 30 contacts – Every one of the 50 plus appointment opportunities you had to choose from are now solid contacts for future media trips! You have names, phone numbers, email address and address for all of them.